Member Research is Important. So How Should We Do It?

Association Adviser

To keep members invested in your association and industry, it’s important to conduct member research into their priorities & professional needs. The post Member Research is Important. Association Communications Benchmarking Series Features Marketing & Communications Take AIM Association Communications Benchmarking study member communications member research

Announcing an Entirely New Methodology for Member Research

Smooth The Path

The associations with high member engagement know their members well. In fact, you might work at one of these member engagement unicorns. Do staff regularly conduct member research? Are listening tours, welcome calls, or member interviews on your list of to-dos? When testing new benefits, do you ask for member feedback? But member insights are hard to come by. You may have noticed that fewer members are answering your surveys.

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A Member Research Strategy to Consider

Smooth The Path

In the last post and the one before , I have been talking about all the benefits of the qualitative methods of research (qualitative research is deep-dive, story-driven research that is adept at answering your complex questions.). Qualitative is not statistically significant, and unless your membership is very small, we cannot capture every member’s voice. Many quantitative surveys can be statistically significant, and they are usually open to every member.

When is it Time to Turn to Qualitative Member Research?

Smooth The Path

When surveys stop working but you still need to learn more about member’s challenges, problems, opinion, needs, wants, and goals. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. Helping members answer the questions that matter most. The post When is it Time to Turn to Qualitative Member Research? Member Research member insights member research qualitative member research quantitative member research solutions surveys

Using member research

Optimist Consulting

Last week 30 membership professionals gathered to hear about member research and what it can do for an organisation. The first presentation, from Seb Elsworth at ACEVO (where I used to work), the charity CEO membership body, who focused on using research to inform the strategic planning process. Then Amanda Rosewarne from Kingston Business School talked about her project collecting CPD research amongst employers and professional bodies.

Daily Buzz: A Better Strategy for Member Research

Associations Now

Don’t just lean on one type of research over the other. Doing research on your members’ needs? You might find that relying on a single method of research doesn’t tell the full story. On her site Smooth the Path , Amanda Kaiser breaks down the weaknesses of the two prevailing methods for doing research—quantitative, which prioritizes scale; and qualitative, which prioritizes depth. Analyzing the state of your membership?

The Marketing of Marketing is not Telling Us The Whole Story About Member Research

SocialFish

And we focus far more on data and surveys than we do on qualitative market research. Technology promises to give us unprecedented access to our members’ hearts and minds but does it really deliver? When you first step into a marketing role at an organization with few member insights, start with the data. Perhaps you have the tools to segment your audience to figure out who the organization’s biggest champion is, or the biggest user, or most profitable member group.

The Marketing of Marketing is not Telling Us The Whole Story About Member Research

SocialFish

And we focus far more on data and surveys than we do on qualitative market research. Technology promises to give us unprecedented access to our members’ hearts and minds but does it really deliver? When you first step into a marketing role at an organization with few member insights, start with the data. Perhaps you have the tools to segment your audience to figure out who the organization’s biggest champion is, or the biggest user, or most profitable member group.

Why Just One Kind of Member Research Isn’t Enough

Associations Now

By pursuing both quantitative data and qualitative input from its members, the Construction Financial Management Association discovered a gap in its member value proposition—and how to fix it. For associations looking to better attract and engage members, the answer is better data. Both solutions have their true believers, and it could be easy to take an impassioned argument for either quantitative or qualitative research as a tacit dismissal of the other.

Qualitative Research Reveals What Matters Most to Members

Smooth The Path

How do you know if the questions and answers in a member survey are the right ones? I like qualitative research methods because they allow members the opportunity to steer the conversation to the topics that are most important to them. Early in an interview project, I may ask a question and members will correct me. Qualitative research helps us do a deep dive on what matters most to our members. Our point of view is not our members point of view.

Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New

Smooth The Path

Should we look outside the association to talk to prospective young members? The post Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New appeared first on Smooth The Path. Member Insights Member Research member feedback member insights member research new members qualitative member research quantitative member researchRelated: Data and association decision-making.

Why Your Survey May Not Be Getting You the Results You Need

Smooth The Path

Is the survey asking me about the time 5 years ago when a staff member connected me with another member and eventually I got a great job through that connection? Pick almost any question on a survey, from satisfaction, to need, to value, and think about how many different ways members could interpret these questions. The intrepretation problem is why I like qualitative member research so much. Words are open to interpretation.

Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology

Smooth The Path

Match your business goals, your project’s goals, your members’ goals with the right member research methodology. Why no member survey may be better than one member survey. The post Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology appeared first on Smooth The Path. Consider what the methodology is best at doing. Related posts: Why Survey Monkey is dangerous. Beware of one question surveys for associations.

Members Give False Positive Responses Because of the Sunny Future Bias

Smooth The Path

Have you ever asked members if they were going to renew, they said yes, but then they didn’t? Have you ever asked members if they would use or buy a new offering, they said yes, but then they didn’t? If you have ever had this happen, you are getting false positives from your members. Becuase we all have the Sunny Future Bias we can not reliably ask our members if they will renew, purchase, attend, read, use, or browse.

Slow Data vs. Fast Data

Smooth The Path

Slow data is the data we accumulate after talking to members at event after event after event, by job shadowing or in member phone interviews. When you have seemingly unanswerable questions about members it is slow data that holds the answer. Related posts: Please ask members. Before you go to your go-to member insight methodology.

Learn About Members’ Why

Smooth The Path

This is great advice but it is awfully hard to do when we don’t know our members’ why. For every action (or inaction) members (and non-members) take there is a why. As established organizations, knowing our member’s why helps us develop and communicate our why. Just like – what doesn’t make for a very compelling story but, why does – what doesn’t make for very actionable member insights but why does.

My Sleep Study Illustrates the Problem with Association Data

Smooth The Path

Member Research data matching needs with solutions new product development process product development qualitative qualitative member research quantitative quantitative member research risk solutions strategic planningI come from a long line of champion sleepers. We go to bed on time. We fall asleep quickly. We sleep straight through the night. We wake up feeling rested.

Helping Members Answer the Questions that Matter Most

Smooth The Path

There’s an interesting dance that happens with member research. We ask the questions we think we want to know the answers to but members see those questions and find they would rather answer some other more important questions. Online surveys don’t allow and don’t prompt members to add important questions and then answer them. Qualitative member research methods do. Related: Please ask members.

Members Who Share Their Opinions Expect Action (here is what we are going to do!)

Smooth The Path

Our members won’t want to give 45-minutes to hour of their time for an interview is a common worry among many association executives. But I find that members actually do. And there are two caveats: first, the association has to be so valuable or so important members want to give feedback and second, the members who actually want to give their feedback are almost always the best members. Members expect us to act on their insights.

A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour

Smooth The Path

Imagine what you can learn by listening to your members share their thoughts, ideas, goals, and problems. The post A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour appeared first on Smooth The Path. Association Innovation Member Research listening member insights member problems member relationship member research qualitative member research starting relationships

Data and the Member Story That Resonates

Smooth The Path

Why no member surveys may be better than one member survey. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. The post Data and the Member Story That Resonates appeared first on Smooth The Path. Marketing Member Research Storytelling association story telling context member data qualitative member research quantitative member research surveyRelated links: Data and association decision-making.

Quantitative Points to the Starting Line, Qualitative Illuminates the Path

Smooth The Path

Improve new member retention. Grow member engagement. Attract more members. Extend member value. Because of my Crayola marketing training, I always turn to member research first. Understand members well, and the path to the goal will emerge. When starting a member research project, there are two possible methodologies to select. Quantitative data explains to us what the problem is in the association and what our members are doing.

Why We Might Be Interpreting Our Association’s Data All Wrong

Smooth The Path

Our assumptions about our members can be wrong. We see the data footprints members leave in their wake, the renewals, the ways they engaged, the content they read. The only way to overcome this bias is to find out what is driving our member’s actions, goals, fears, and challenges. It is not enough to look at the data and see what our members are doing. It is time to discover your members’ stories. Do you know that member surveys can be risky?

Data and Association Decision-Making

Smooth The Path

We feel better when we can say 75% of our members do this. When making a strategic decision on the basis of qualitative data (a member survey, our own data or third party data) ask these questions: Who responded and are these the members we most need insight from? What is our goal and does our research methodology support our goal ? Why do we want statistics so much? 45% want this. 68% prefer this. We tend to think statistical measures are the truth.

To Conduct Exit Surveys or Not to Conduct Exit Surveys

Smooth The Path

My guess is, we would learn: most members don’t renew because their job changed, some smaller number didn’t renew because they didn’t see the value, and some others didn’t renew because the price is too high. There’s not much we can do when a member moves out of the profession or industry. With exit surveys we are asking, how do we stop members from leaving the organization? Related: Why no member surveys may be better than one survey.

Our Point of View is Not Our Members’ Point of View

Smooth The Path

Our members may think membership is priced too high because of its impact on their budget or personal wallet. If members bought all the benefits a la carte, they would pay twice as much. But, our members may not see any value because the association is not solving the problem they have right now. Members see three precious days out of the office, away from their families. Is your staff’s point of view the same as your members?

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Use the 5-Step Idea Process to Become an Association Innovation Ninja

Smooth The Path

Because ideas lead to innovation we want more ideas, better ideas, THE idea that will excite members. Many innovative associations use a formal or informal idea process which generally has five steps and goes something like this: Step #1: Allow member’s problems spark innovative ideas. Our members are taking on new responsibilities, being asked to take on new projects or they are identifying something new that needs to be done. Learn about member’ why.

Beware of One Question Surveys for Associations

Smooth The Path

A few days after the call they call they sent an email asking: Based on your recent call experience, if a family member, friend or colleague asked you to recommend a credit card, how likely would you be to recommend us? We get so focused on our question we forget about the broader context in which members are making decisions. It is hard for our members to be objective, especially when they are make a snap decision to select what seems like the right answer at the time.

Members Leave Associations Without a Sound

Smooth The Path

Related: Don’t ask for feedback from members who are too new. Asking members to opt in after a bad member experience. The post Members Leave Associations Without a Sound appeared first on Smooth The Path. Member Research exit survey exit-surveys lapsed member member experience member feedback member insights member researchThere are important things we may not know about the association.

Engaged Members Tell Heartfelt Stories

Smooth The Path

Are you wondering if your members are engaged? One of the traits of engaged members is they can tell stories about how your association helped them. Unengaged members don’t tell stories like this. ” Unengaged members may even site a benefit they have not used or don’t often use, like “I know they do a monthly webinar,” or “I joined to receive the journal.” Related: Associaton members define engagement differently than you do.

Board Member Focus Groups Tend To Be Wildly Inaccurate

Smooth The Path

When it comes to member research, and maybe even feedback, your board is not a reliable source. Board members may: Remember the good old days and want to return the association to that time. Be much more advanced in their careers than the average member. Have a more robust network than most members. Feel more connected than most members. Board members usually are not representative of your core members, or average members, or new members.

Case Study: In-depth Member Interviews Feed Association’s Strategic Plan

Smooth The Path

What else should the association do to support members during these extremely challenging times? In preparation for other strategic planning processes the association conducted quantitative member surveys but found the results were not all that actionable because there continued to be so many unanswered questions. With this in mind they decided to test out a qualitative research methodology as input to this strategic planning process. Listening to members.

How to Exponentially Improve Member Engagement at Any Association

Smooth The Path

Wouldn’t it be great if members felt this way every day of the week? At some associations, members do feel this way, and your members can feel like this too. The only thing preventing our association from becoming the top of mind resource, the organization members are trying to figure out how to become more engaged with, and the one members rave to their colleagues about is… Simply, our understanding of members.

How Often are We Out of Sync with Members?

Smooth The Path

Likely members think the value of their membership is more than or less than we think they think it is. Likely members have better or worse experiences with the association than we guess they do. Likely members like the conference more or less than we assume they do. The problem with being disconnected with members is we may focus on the wrong strategies, develop the wrong new products or services or send out marketing messages that just don’t hit the mark.

Results indicate that Membership Associations Who Performed Member Research in 2012 Had Higher Acquisition and Renewal Rates.

Experts in Membership Marketing

This year we learned that 65% of membership associations that introduced member research in 2012 saw an increase in new members. If your leadership needs it, these results provide a strong rationale to perform member research. Results from the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report continue to get more interesting everyday! 59% saw an increase in membership and 45% realized an increase in renewals.

Our Members Are Not Crazy

Smooth The Path

Members don’t take the time to understand their benefits. Those chapter leaders are not communicating well with new members. There are so many situations that pit association staff against members. If you are sometimes baffled by your member’s decisions or your board’s decisions check out a timely article I recently became aware of. Hearing member’s stories is such a valuable thing, but these stories can be tricky to hear.

What Member Feedback to Keep, and What to Toss

Smooth The Path

Often from the board, sometimes from members, periodically from volunteers, and maybe from staff. We want to be responsive to our members, but wouldn’t it be great if we knew if the feedback was correct or not? After all, it would be silly to turn the association inside out at the whim of one member, especially if the biases of that one member make them flat out wrong. So how do you know if one person’s feedback represents an army of like-minded members?

Study Holds Key to Association Member Engagement

Smooth The Path

For the last year, I have been saying that members who engage with the association within the first 3 days to 3 weeks of joining become more engaged through the life of their membership. I have been shouting this from the rooftops because members have told me this in interview after interview. The link between each new member’s experience and overall engagement is significant news because increased new member engagement does not just benefit the small segment of new members.

Joint Surveys and the Importance of Knowing Your Industry

Association Adviser

More about the importance of knowing your association members and your industry in depth. Marketing & Communications Membership association research industry research marketing research member research member surveys. The post Joint Surveys and the Importance of Knowing Your Industry appeared first on Association Adviser -. For more about this topic, click on the headline.

Member Engagement Is Not Convenient for Us

Smooth The Path

In this way, the food analogy is a lot like member engagement work. The friction arises because, in general, the more inconvenient member engagement practices are for us, the more our members love them. Building member engagement is inconvenient. Providing value-based member marketing is far more inconvenient than promotional marketing. In my line of work qualitative, interview-based member research is waaaayyy more inconvenient than fielding a survey.